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The ’90s Revisited: Eclipso #1

90s_revisited

eclipso_0001The Count

Plotter/Breakdown Artist: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Bart Sears
Scripter: Robert Loren Fleming
Inkers: Ray Kryssing, Mark Pennington
Letters: Gaspar
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editors: Michael Eury, KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November, 1992
Cover Price: $1.25

Though I was aware of The Joker and probably Catwoman and the Penguin, as well as Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and Mr. Mxyzptlk to name a few comic book villains…MY first wide-spread, "universe"-threatening villain was Eclipso.

Yeah.

See, I was introduced to comics in 1988, began "collecting" comics myself in 1989, and was just starting to "get back into" comics in the summer of 1992. While hanging out one day, a friend shared with me a couple new comics he’d gotten–including "a" Superman #1. With Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1, I was introduced to Eclipso, and the Eclipso: The Darkness Within story that was taking place in the various annuals that summer.

Get to the end of that crossover, and I remember an ad for Eclipso and Valor–two series "spinning out" from the "event."

Nearly twenty-five years later, I’ve finally READ Eclipso’s first issue!

I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly–perhaps some extension of The Darkness Within, but with newer or lesser-known characters, given the "big event" was over with. Perhaps I expected some loose-knit "team" to have been assembled, perhaps Bruce Gordon gathering folks together to go after Eclipso. What I GOT, though, was a story of Eclipso possessing an outcast and slaughtering a village, essentially reminding himself that he was capable of this, particularly when not hampered by super-heroes. Later while checking out the slaughter, a black diamond is found and taken–with the hopes that its value will make up for the loss of the village and prevent some Count from shooting the messenger. Of course, this being Eclipso and that a black diamond…well, Eclipso feeds on the Count’s anger and possesses him…and slaughters the Count’s household. When the police arrive to investigate this…Eclipso is ready. The black diamond is flipped to a sergeant who is goaded to anger…and thus Eclipso has another minion with whom to continue to kill. And for him…it’s a good day to be a villain.

While we have a narrative story here, the issue is particularly interesting to me as the issue is "hosted" by Eclipso himself, essentially venting to the reader about stuff and showing off to the reader–as he’s got no one else to do it with. He shows us where he came from, what he’s capable of, and lets us in on a bit of his thinking and reasoning and plans for the future…namely, he’s learned from recently-transpired events and is trying a different means of getting whatever he wants.

Story-wise, I really dug this issue. As said, it took me nearly 25 years to get around to reading this, and where I’d expect it to be a letdown for so many years of NOT being disappointed by it to actually read the thing…I really enjoyed this quite a bit, in what it is. Not for the slaughter and casual taking of lives, but as a first issue about a villain that sets him up for his own series. This isn’t making the villain into an anti-hero…it’s the villain BEING a villain. He doesn’t even need a super-hero to fight to do nasty stuff, to be vile and dark and all that. He’s just that regardless of a bright foil. And having the character talking to the reader, aware of us following him through these pages…it’s like a dark take on the usually-lighter way I think many think of for Deadpool, She-Hulk, or Harley Quinn. Plus there’s the nostalgia of the notion of the "hosts" of the House of Secrets books, and here’s Eclipso "hosting" his own book. I later realized that it makes sense, too…the character first appeared IN House of Secrets!

Visually, I really liked this issue. This is Eclipso as I think of the character by default…perhaps because this issue has Bart Sears as the artist, and I believe he was the artist on the bookend Eclipso: The Darkness Within #s 1-2, which adds a great consistency from that mini-series/event into this ongoing series.

Story and writing, I think I really enjoyed that there were no heroes here. It gives room for the Eclipso character to be shown–if not at his WORST–then at his default. And bad as that is, it at least hints at how bad he can be if he’s actually worked up or challenged.

For years, I’ve thought that an Eclipso: The Darkness Within omnibus would be fantastic. Now I’m even more convinced of that…but adding to it the wish for an Eclipso omnibus for this series, and perhaps other appearances through the years. It’s also interesting to note that this was a first issue of a brand-new series, spinning out of an EVENT, with high-end talent creatively…yet it is a standard-sized, standard-priced single-cover first issue. No variants, no fancy gimmicks, no extra-pages to lure someone in or jack up the price…it’s just a comic, that happens to be a #1, that gives a good start to a new series coming off an event.

I won’t say this is by any means a "happy" issue…but it stands alone quite well, and is worth snagging if you can get it for $1 or less, just to read this issue, regardless of anything else read of the character…provided you’re interested in Eclipso. As for me…this has me psyched to read the rest of the series, as well as increased interest in finally going through my Showcase Presents volume and perhaps hunting down some other Eclipso issues.

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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Dynamite) #1 [Review]

turokdinosaurhunterdynamite001 Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Bart Sears
Turok Logo Design: Rian Hughes
Packaged/Edited by: Nate Cosby
Published by: Dynamite
Cover Price: $3.99

It wasn’t all that long ago that I learned of Dark Horse relaunching several former Gold Key titles, which grabbed my attention as former Valiant properties that I recognized from the 1990s. I saw it as a good point to jump aboard, as presumably the closest I was gonna get to a Valiant rebirth. Those titles only lasted a few months, and while I rather enjoyed them at the start, my interest trickled off with ’em. SINCE then, though…

Since then, Valiant‘s back, with a number of great titles proving the characters and universe have an audience…and are still going strong nearly 2 years in (a rather large accomplishment, to me, in an age of mini-series and things generally just not lasting).

So it’s with my enjoyment of the Valiant books that I’m checking out Dynamite‘s relaunching of the Gold Key titles. If Valiant itself can do well…then hey, here’s hoping Dynamite can hold it together for a couple years.

Outside of the names and basic premise (that is, humans existing in a world with dinosaurs still around), this seems a wholly fresh start. Where I recall the Dark Horse run being a closer re-telling (and those premiere issues included a reprint of the original series’ first issues), this seems much more like I expected based on the above Valiant comparison.

We’re introduced to a father vowing to protect his child, before being killed. Flashing ahead 16 years, we find that child an outcast, bullied but surviving on his own…to the chagrin of the others. When confronted he refuses to give in–it’s better (to him) to be alone. The latest confrontation is broken up by a surprise attack by large lizard creatures, which Turok and Andal (a name I recall from the Dark Horse iteration) barely survive as we learn what caused the attack.

Along with the general “strength” of the Valiant titles serving as influence to my buying this, I recognize writer Greg Pak from other stuff I’ve enjoyed…most recently Planet Hulk as well as Valiant‘s own Eternal Warrior. This issue and title benefits from my still relative unfamiliarity with Turok and cast–I only remember reading the first issue of the Dark Horse run and can’t honestly recall if I read beyond that.

I appreciated the use of “time” in this issue, seeing the past, present, and the flashbacks…actually following what was going on to pick up on a tone I feel I miss in a lot of comics. As a first issue goes, this definitely hits points I look for: we’re introduced to the main protagonist, to other characters, learn something of the protagonist and their status quo, and are introduced to the conflict. In less generalized terms: We meet Turok, we meet other characters including Andal, we get dinosaurs, and we get Turok fighting dinosaurs. Maybe more importantly to me…there’s no pretentious last-page spread/cliffhanger “revealing” that dinosaurs exist, as if the very title Dinosaur Hunter doesn’t tell us that.

There were several panels I had some trouble following who was who and exactly what was going on at first glance, but that was mainly during a fight sequence and I can’t imagine it being any worse than trying to visually parse out a fast-moving camera sequence for a movie or tv series. By and large the art is good, and I like the look of the characters, and there’s nothing particularly off-putting or distracting to me.

My primary problem with this issue is the variant covers–I’m used to there at least being some sort of notation on the cover declaring it a variant or not so had some frustration at determining exactly which cover of several was the “regular” or “standard” edition…ultimately identifying this by matching the front cover image with the interior cover (only later at home discoverng a 3-page gallery of thumbnails showing off all the variants for the issue). That identification is part of my preference for standard covers: I prefer the cover that is acknowledged in marketing and such and “fits” the issue and story. If a cover image is going to double up incorporated on the interior, I want the aesthetic of matching, not recognizing a difference.

Other than that and on the whole…I enjoyed this issue. As soon as I saw it at the shop, it was the main thing I wanted to get into and read, and it definitely measured up. The aforementioned issue with variant covers makes me hesitant to put it on a pull list, as I don’t want to get stuck with a variant, and I have a far lower tolerance for that with Dynamite than I do Valiant.

You need not have read anything involving Turok before to get in here, though there’ll undoubtedly be familiar elements if you have. This is functionally a new title and character, there’s no pre-existing continuity to know, you only need one copy of this issue to get into the story-so-far.

Definitely recommended.

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